Chatting with a friend in the Great Outdoors can be beneficial to mind and body
Photo by Official CC0 1.0

We hear a lot these days about mental health, physical health and how to achieve a good balance between both, but the majority of the current advice out there boils down to a ‘quick fix’ option. What if you could build wellness into your life in such a way that you didn’t even need to think about it anymore? What if you could cultivate habits that contributed to your overall health in a steady, sustainable manner, therefore freeing you up to enjoy the benefits?

Rather than feeling guilty for an underused gym membership or filling your schedule with an increasingly frantic roster of unfulfilling social events, we suggest you slow down and take a look at what makes you feel happiest and healthiest. Then do that!

Stay Mindful

Mindfulness, meditation, yoga… Our world has become saturated with streamlined versions of these cultural practices, designed to fit easily into busy schedules and deliver fast results. Well, the truth is that when it comes to being mindful, you are never going to reach the finish line. If it works for you, then this should be a lifelong practice that becomes a natural part of the flow of your everyday.

Pittsburgh Integrative Mental Health offers a great introduction to both mindfulness and meditation for the newcomer, with plenty of experienced practitioners providing both resources to use from home and live classes to attend. Or, if you’re looking for something a little less clinical, Pittsburgh Shambhala Meditation Center offers everything from learning circles to retreats to weekthüns (or in-depth retreats) in a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere. The lessons you learn with either of these providers are designed to be taken home with you and become interwoven into your daily life experience.

Popping on a pair of running shoes and stepping outside is one of the easiest ways to exercise
Photo by Arek Adeoye CC0 1.0

Jog On

It’s easy to find a bit of space for yourself in almost any situation, if only you know how. One of the best ways to do this is strap on a pair of running shoes and step outside. Even if you’re away from home you can always see what the local area has to offer. Experienced poker player Lee Jones is quick to advocate this alternative to the treadmill, recommending a beautiful circular run around Virginia Lake in Reno to those who’ve been grinding away at the nearby Peppermill Casino. As he points out, exercise and fresh air can really give you the edge when it comes to cerebral activity and more and more people are recognising this.

In fact, a study at Exeter University in the UK found that running in a natural environment helps to decrease tension, increase energy and help runners to feel revitalised. Luckily, in Pittsburgh we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to beautiful outdoor running routes. Frick Park is large enough to accommodate even the keenest runner’s mileage and is always well maintained. Alternatively, the Montour Trail is 46 miles of prime running trail, through historical sites and nature alike. Or if you prefer to have some company whilst you run, then check out Steel City Road Runners, People Who Run Downtown and other running groups to join.

The great thing about natural beauty is that it can be found anywhere and running through it is not only good for your body, but it also calms your mind – and it’s free! Even just getting out once a week can do wonders for your health levels and give you that breathing space we all crave.

Lean On Me

Not much can beat a phonecall to your best friend after you’ve had a bad day. Whether your woes are work related, concern a close relationship, or are because of a creative block, your best friend is bound to have you laughing again in no time. It can be easy to neglect our bosom buddies in the business of modern life, when we need to stay late at work, go to that networking event or even attend parents’ evening. However, it’s vitally important for our wellbeing that we stay in touch.

Just as some people might have a ‘date night’ with their partner, we suggest that you try to organise regular meet ups with your mates. Whether you head for some sushi at Umi, skate down to the roller disco at Dance & Derby or get nostalgic at Row House Cinema, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing as long as you’re together. Friendship is an important part of the human experience and can help you to feel more successful, more accepted and generally happier. Plus, it’s always enjoyable to spend time hanging out with your besties.

Everything suggested here is designed to fit easily in to your existing lifestyle. Wellness isn’t about taking on hundreds of new energy-sapping and anxiety-inducing habits, but rather about doing more of what makes you happy.

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